Since I was in high school I’ve always been interested in politics. It seemed very strange to many of my friends, since many of them were apathetic towards the political process. I study Political Science at the University at Albany and have always found electoral politics particularly intriguing; the reasons people vote, who votes, who doesn’t vote. It was all a brand new and exciting frontier. I really began to follow political elections in 2012 when I was studying the Republican candidates in their bid for the white house. I felt that the primary and caucus system of selecting a candidate was fantastic as it allowed for almost everyone’s vote to be heard in the selection of their party’s nominee. I was always energized by the idea of a new election or policy being introduced and I took it as a sign of democracy functioning as it should.
I would soon learn however that democracy was not functioning as it should, in fact it wasn’t functioning at all. In the 2012 elections I noticed something strange when studying the electoral data from the House Congressional elections. Democrats had gained more votes nationally, but had not gotten anywhere close to a majority of the seats in the House. I was confused, and went to work researching and found that this was not uncommon. In fact, four of our 44 presidents (or about 5%) had been elected without receiving a majority (and most cases not even a plurality!) of the popular vote. Needless to say I was a little annoyed, as I had grown up believing that American democracy was a model for the rest of the world. How great could it be if our votes didn't seem to have a real impact in the makeup of our government? I was even more frustrated at the fact that many of my peers didn’t seem to care and just took our broken system as a fact of life. I knew that shouldn’t be the case.
Finding FairVote was exactly what I needed--an organization dedicated to exposing the broken and polarizing nature of America’s outdated political system. The idea of proportional representation and ranked choice voting are two huge steps to help ensure that true democracy is ensured to every American.During my internship here at FairVote I hope to work on making a real difference and one day see the walls of apathy come tumbling down as democracy rises tall. Dramatics aside, I hope to learn a lot about the ways in which American democracy can be better achieved.
Orion Marchese is a 2015 Advocacy Intern at FairVote. Do you want to apply for a FairVote internship? Find more information here: http://www.fairvote.org/who-we-are/internships-and-employment/internships/